im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pə-tən(t)s How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Definition of impotence

: the quality or state of being impotent: such as
a : lack of power, strength, or vigor : weakness … the growing impotence of governments in the face of corporate willfulness and regional factionalism.— Alan Wexelblat
b : an abnormal physical or psychological state of a male characterized by inability to engage in sexual intercourse because of failure to have or maintain an erection : erectile dysfunction

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Examples of impotence in a Sentence

the congressional committee's essential impotence in affecting the management of the war was frustrating to its members
Recent Examples on the Web There is a high demand for the horns in Asia, where they are used for ornamental carvings and are sometimes falsely advertised as a treatment for hangovers, impotence and even cancer. New York Times, "Black Rhino Born at Michigan Zoo on Christmas Eve," 25 Dec. 2019 This is exactly the opposite of the truth: the impotence of individual actions is a reason for everyone to try. Bruce Watson, Washington Post, "We know what we have to do to save the planet. We just don’t care.," 4 Oct. 2019 Last year’s unrest started in September, when educated Iraqis took to the streets to protest unemployment and government impotence. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "The Pinnacle of Trump’s Foreign Policy Stupidity," 3 Jan. 2020 Vengeance will not be complete until Japanese sea power is reduced to impotence. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The Real World War II History Behind the Movie Midway," 8 Nov. 2019 Orchid tubers are eaten as impotence fighters in Israel; bulbs, as aphrodisiacs in Turkey. National Geographic, "Holographic elephants shine new light on tradition—and other innovations," 5 Nov. 2019 The midfield must also shoulder their fair share of the blame for the Rossoneri's attacking impotence., "AC Milan 1-0 SPAL: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Suso Spares Rossoneri's Blushes," 31 Oct. 2019 Compared to men without symptoms of impotence, the analysis found men with ED have a 59% higher risk of coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis, a 37% higher risk of stroke and a 33% higher risk of dying from any cause. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Erectile dysfunction may predict strokes and heart attacks," 11 Sep. 2019 California has been a bellwether for national politics in the past — witness how immigrant-bashing dating back to Proposition 187 in 1994 reduced the state’s Republican Party to impotence. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: In landmark session, the California Legislature shows what progressive lawmaking looks like," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impotence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impotence

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for impotence

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The first known use of impotence was in the 15th century

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Statistics for impotence

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impotence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for impotence


im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pə-təns How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Kids Definition of impotence

: the quality or state of lacking power or strength


im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pət-ən(t)s How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Medical Definition of impotence

1 : the quality or state of not being potent drug-resistant bacteria are a virulent indicator of the growing impotence of antibiotics
2 : an abnormal physical or psychological state of a male characterized by inability to engage in sexual intercourse because of failure to have or maintain an erection

called also erectile dysfunction

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